Nigel Owens (born 18 June 1971 in Mynyddcerrig, near Llanelli, Wales) is a Welsh international rugby union referee. He is an international and Heineken Cup referee and was the only Welsh referee at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.
Owens was appointed as an international referee in 2005, and that year officiated his first international between Ireland and Japan in Osaka. Along with Wayne Barnes of England and Marius Jonker of South Africa, Owens made his World Cup debut in Lyon, France on 11 September 2007 for the Argentina vs. Georgia match.
In May 2007, he publicly came out in an interview with Wales on Sunday. Although reactions have been generally positive, it was a difficult decision to make. He had even contemplated suicide.
"It's such a big taboo to be gay in my line of work, I had to think very hard about it because I didn't want to jeopardise my career. Coming out was very difficult and I tried to live with who I really was for years. I knew I was 'different' from my late teens, but I was just living a lie." Owens lives in Pontyberem, South Wales.
- Rugby World Cup 2007 match official appointments set IRB.com
- Welsh ref Owens on World Cup list IcWales.co.uk
- Owens appointed as international ref
- Gay referee to officiate at Rugby World Cup - PinkNews.co.uk
- Quiz the Ref: Nigel Owens - BBC Sport, 15 March 2006
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